G&D Chillers R290 Chiller
G&D Chillers Company Headquarters in Eugene, Oregon. Photo Credit: G&D Chillers.

G&D Chillers Launches R290 Commercial and Industrial Chiller for the U.S. Market

The company said it is the ‘first in the commercial chilling industry to reintroduce propane as a natural refrigerant’ to the U.S.

Oregon-based manufacturer G&D Chillers has launched a new propane (R290) commercial and industrial chiller for the U.S. market, which it said makes it the “first in the [U.S.] commercial chilling industry to reintroduce propane as a natural refrigerant.”

The company unveiled the unit, dubbed the Elite R290, at the Craft Brewers Conference, held April 21‒24 in Las Vegas. G&D Chillers said it has more than 30 years of experience producing chillers for brewing, cannabis, food processing, wine and other manufacturing industries.

“G&D is leading the movement to adopt propane as a future-proof chilling method here in North America for process chillers,” Justin Thomas, President of G&D Chillers, told NaturalRefrigerants.com. “We’re really excited for the future growth potential of this significant launch.”

Paul Johnson, Director of Technology and R&D at G&D Chillers, told NaturalRefrigerants.com that the Elite R290 line offers refrigeration capacities between 0.5‒165TR (1.8‒580kW) and that its charge ranges from “as little as a few ounces” to around 6lbs (2.7kg). Outlet temperatures are from 28 to 65°F (−2.2 to 18.3°C).

Future-proof chillers: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, has limited the GWP for many types of new refrigeration equipment to 150, with compliance dates starting in 2025.

Current U.S. regulations limit the charge of propane refrigerant in indoor installations of closed appliances to 300g (10.6oz). Equipment with higher charges requires the approval of the local jurisdiction before installation.

  • “We have designed our chillers to meet and exceed current safety standards to ensure a streamlined approval process,” Johnson told NaturalRefrigerants.com, explaining that the company applied several different U.S. standards, including those from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), International Code Council (ICC) and ASHRAE 15/34, the national electric code put out by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

Inspiration from abroad: “After seeing how successful this natural refrigerant has been in Europe, we knew now was the time to bring our Elite 290 series to market,” Thomas told NaturalRefrigerants.com.

  • Data from ATMOsphere’s 2023 natural refrigerants market report (p.70) indicate that as of December 2023, roughly 5,000 hydrocarbon-based chillers were in use at European industrial sites.

Early adopters: Seeking to be carbon neutral by 2030, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing has already installed an Elite R290 chiller.

  • “We’re really happy to work with a partner like G&D Chillers who was willing to build a propane-based chiller [to] help us significantly reduce the amount of HFCs used in our refrigeration systems,” said Andy Collins, Carbon Neutral Engineer at New Belgium.
  • New Belgium Brewing claims to have produced the “first” American carbon-neutral beer, called Fat Tire.

A potential tie for first: U.S. OEM Zero Zone also unveiled a commercial propane chiller for the American market at the 2024 IIAR Conference, held March 24‒27 in Orlando, Florida.

  • Depending on the model, the water-cooled unit offers 3‒5TR (10.5‒17.6kW) of capacity and supplies glycol at −5 to 40°F (−20.6 to 4.4°C). Connected units provide capacities up to 30TR (105.5kW).
  • The company brought the R290 chiller to the expo to “start some conversations” as the U.S. begins phasing down HFC production, said John Collins, Industrial Sales Manager at Zero Zone.

Quotable: “This is a defining moment for the market, as leaders ‒ such as our friends at New Belgium Brewing ‒ are eager to adopt a new chilling method that helps reinforce their commitment to sustainability and efficiency,” Thomas told NaturalRefrigerants.com. “This is definitely the future of chilling technology that will help companies improve their environmental impact and meet consumer demand for sustainable business practices.”

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